How to Start Walking Your Cat Outside
Walking your cat outside may seem like a wacky idea at first. Not many people envision themselves strolling their pet cats down neighborhood blocks, nor do many cats like going outside in the first place. Yet, there is a growing community of cats and cat owners who have taken to the activity in recent years, and for a meowy good reason.
New scents, physical challenges, and sights that outdoor environments provide can enrich a cat’s daily life with new sources of neural stimulation. Additionally, by walking your cat outside, behavioral problems related to boredom and insufficient exercise can be greatly alleviated.
Before Walking Your Cat Outside
While there are plenty of cats who come fully equipped with fearless personalities, there are just as many that are less open to the idea of stepping outside of their indoor dwellings — and that’s 110% purrfectly okay! However, it is encouraged, though not required, that owners give their cats the opportunity to experience walking outside.
Choosing the Right Cat Harness
Unlike dog leashes, which are typically designed to hook around the necks of dogs, cat harnesses are built to evenly distribute pressure. This is because cats have softer throats and are more likely to have problems if pulled by their collars.
There are two types of harnesses built for cats: leads and vests. Leads are essentially two straps attached to a leash, whereas vests are like little jackets fitted to your cat’s torso. If your kitty is prone to wriggle out of spaces and dash for distractions, it’s recommended to opt for the vest, as they’re constructed to be more secure. Both options come in various sizes and will give your kitty an excellent range of motion. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your fur baby to determine what’s the most comfortable option to work with.
Introducing Your Cat to the Outdoors
Now that your cat feels acclimated to wearing the harness indoors, it’s time to crack into the outside world! Ensure that the first outdoor spot that your kitty roams around in is calm and, ideally, fenced in (in case your kitty gets too hyper and tries to scamper away). If your cat happens to live in a loud or crowded city, it’s recommended that you take your cat to a quiet park with few distractions.
At first, your cat might feel averse to going outside, so much so that your first trip may not be successful. Try not to let one or two difficult attempts discourage your efforts, though. In time, your cat may muster enough courage to experiment with wandering beyond the confines of the carrier case, and when this moment strikes, feel free to let your cat venture as far as they feel content to do so. If your cat starts hesitating, do not nudge them beyond their comfort zone. Instead, walk your kitty back to where they started, and begin again. Be sure to reward your cat with treats and positive reinforcement throughout this process.
Adventure Awaits You and Your Cat
After days, weeks, or even months, your cat has, at last, become acclimated to the joy of exploring the ameowzing outdoors. Cheers to you and your kitty, as your venture to new backyards, parks, and hiking trails!
Feature image credit: @FloydTheLion